Google on Monday announced a widely expected open-development platform for mobile devices backed by industry heavyweights like T-Mobile, HTC, Qualcomm and Motorola that could shake the wireless market to its core by simplifying and reducing the cost of developing mobile applications.
The platform, called Android, has been developed by Google and others as part of the Open Handset Alliance, which has over 30 partners supporting it. The goal of this ambitious initiative is to spur innovation in the mobile space and accelerate improvements in how people use the Web via cell phones.
(See PC World Editor in Chief Harry McCracken's live blog from Google's press conference Monday morning)
As previously reported by IDG News Service, the open-source platform will have a complete set of components, including an operating system, middleware stack, customizable user interface and applications.
The first Android-based phones should hit the market in the second half of 2008. The platform will be made available under an open-source license that will give a lot of flexibility to those who adopt it to modify its components and design services and products, Google said.
The alliance will release an "early access" software development kit next week to provide developers with the tools necessary to create applications for the platform, Google said.
"Our vision is that the powerful platform we're unveiling will power thousands of different phone models." Google Chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt said in a statement.
Other founding members of the alliance include Broadcom, eBay, China Mobile, Intel, LG Electronics, NTT DoCoMo, Nvidia, Samsung, Sprint Nextel, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Texas Instruments and Wind River.
Noticeably absent from the list is traditional Google ally Apple, whose popular iPhone might see its innovation lead cut sooner than expected thanks to this Google effort.
More information about the Open Handset Alliance is at this Web site.
Google and some of its partners will hold a press conference at noon EST Monday to provide more details and discuss the announcement.
(More to follow.)